TRAVIS KVAPIL - No. 34 Long John Silver's Ford Fusion
EXPECTATIONS GOING INTO THIS YEAR? "We definitely have higher expectations. Last year we had some struggles and I think we were definitely spread kind of thin trying to run three cars and the second and third team really kind of came together late last year. I'm thankful for Bob and everybody at Front Row. They made some big steps during the off season. We bought a bunch of cars from the RPM guys and we're going to be running Ford's new FR9 engine this year, which we didn't run last year. I think that's gonna be a big boost in our program. Consolidating down from three to two teams, I think that's gonna help us consolidate our efforts on those two cars. We hired a competition director, a role that we didn't have in place before. We hired Derrick Finley and I'm excited to have him. He's gonna help strengthen that link between Front Row Motorsports and Ford and be able to use the resources Ford offers us that much better - the engineering, the technology, the wind tunnel time, seven-post time. We just didn't have the time or personnel to do that last year, so just a lot of little steps we're making. We're also looking to take that next step up the ladder in the field as well to improve our performance."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS RACE CONSIDERING YOU DIDN'T TEST IN JANUARY? "I still feel very confident about it. We do all the things at the shop we can do just to get pure speed in the race car and spend time on the chassis dyno and pull-down rig. We have a very good idea of what we need to do to get the speed. Even though we didn't come here and test, we all have friends in the garage. We've been to Talladega the last couple season, which is a very similar situation here with new pavement. The track is very smooth. The same things you did at Talladega to try and find speed, we're gonna do those here, so having that experience at Talladega won't make this that big of a disadvantage not coming down here to test."
THE TRACK WAS SO BUMPY AND SLICK BEFORE, SO DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT? "It's gonna be easy to drive. It's gonna literally be like driving down the interstate at 70 miles an hour is what it's gonna feel like, except when you get in the pack. It's gonna be that much more mentally challenging. Before, you were really up on the wheel and your handling was very important and sliding around and bouncing around. Now, it's gonna be more of a chess game. The handling is gonna be a non-issue. The track is very smooth. There aren't many bumps to deal with, but it's just gonna be a chess game of positioning yourself right and because the track is smooth, it's gonna be like Talladega where we're all gonna be up on top of each other - three-wide and probably four-wide - and we're not gonna be able to get away from each other like we did at Daytona in the past."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF? "I've really enjoyed my time with Bill Henderson so far. I like that he's straight to the point. He's gonna do everything he can to prepare us to run well at the shop. Good enough isn't good enough. He's gonna try to do it the best he can, so I'm just excited to work with Bill and see how we get going here. He's excited to be with me and with Front Row Motorsports, so I'm just excited to get this season going with him."
-source: ford racing